To be crystal clear because I know my family and some friends will read this, I personally have never been in danger from a client above and beyond the occasional chance to have been bored to death by an incessant chatterer or the non-communicative oxygen sucking customer. Both examples by the way occurred when I was very new to working in real estate and before I realized my game gets upped by pre-qualifying the prospective client first and having an interview to be sure we're compatible! At any rate, I have been working with a number of new buyers recently and a couple have asked me to meet them at the property. Uhm...no. You see, I don't know you and while I surely want to sell property, an agent's safety comes first so we get to live another gazillion days to sell more property.
Before I sat down to compose this post I googled assaults and "Murders of real estate agents in the US" and was stunned to find out that victims of these horrific crimes aren't just women! So many men have also been targeted, some with gruesome results. The crimes aren't always physical harm or murder, more often than not the miscreants are thieves casing the property for later intrusion.
This post is meant to raise awareness of safety in the workplace of any agent and to point out that our workplaces are varied. A promising trend is the emphasis on safety training of agents and how to avoid putting themselves in harm's way in the first place. The other purpose of publicizing this topic to potential real estate clients and put them on notice that it is just plain wrong to insist or bullying an agent to meet them at a property instead of the agent's office or other suitable public place but preferably the office.
Whenever I get a call from a new prospect asking to meet at the property, there is no coyness involved in my response. "I'm looking forward to meeting you and showing you the property you'd like to see but I don't know you. My agency's and my own policy for safety's sake is to always meet for the first time at our office.". I would say better than 9 out of 10 callers will immediately respond with some surprise and something like, "I completely understand." The minority that try to convince me that their time is sooo tight and they are positive this is THE property they want and couldn't possibly squeeze in the time to meet at the office, well the inner warning bell rings and the hair on the back of my neck raises. Most likely they aren't anyone intent upon doing illegal or bad things but statistically speaking, they probably aren't a serious buyer either and will surely fall into the aforementioned category of someone destined to bore me to death or suck all the oxygen out of the car with incessant non-consequential chatter!
Sure, a buyer's schedule is important and agents do want to economize on both their client's and their own time frame. However, we have to be very intentional and consistent about the way we safeguard our lives and conduct our business. The reasonable response to "I don't know you, let's meet first at the office." from a reasonable and authentic buyer will be "Of course, I understand. What is your address?".
To learn more about safety tips for real estate agents, follow this link to a National Association of Realtors article. Please be safe!